Wednesday, 29 February 2012

The truth about eye creams

The truth about eye creams or serums..

I am somewhat an expert when it comes to eye creams. I have been using one since I was 18 years old and I am now 32 years of age.While genetics has some part to play to determine the quality of my skin, I can safely say I have never gone without an eye cream.

Some have commented that eye creams are a marketing ploy and therefore, your face moisturiser should be up to the task. The answer to this is  a mixture of a yes and a no.

The truth about eye creams is that it may be a  cosmeceutical spin, if it is touted to do incredulous things like restructuring one’s eye anatomy. No! No eye cream can do this, a surgeon’s scalpel can, but not an eye cream or even a combination of eye creams.

So without further a do: let me address in turn the problems one may face in the eye  area, and I am acutely aware , you may not have just the one but a mixture of issues.

The skin around the orbital area, is considerably thinner than the rest of facial area. This area doesn’t have as much active sebaceous glands to keep the surface moist and to prevent trans-epidermal water loss ( TEWL). Also beneath the epidermis, sub dermal area, the collagenous layer is a lot thinner ( this is the youth factor – the component which keeps the skin area taut,plump and tense). Also, the orbital area is highly muscular the muscles underneath is concentric ( circular) which supports blinking and also there are muscles that work like slings on the eyeballs to help it move around the eye socket.

Wrinkles naturally occur as part of repetitive movement ( facial expressions, squinting, rubbing). There is a difference between fine lines and deep lines that one sees around the area. Dehydration can be caused by many factors: bad diet, inadequate water intake, faddy diets ( means you lose good fats and vitamins which your skin needs),  sun exposure ( UVA and UVB photo damage), smoking ( due to squinting, and toxins depleting collagen), bad skin care ( heavy products – i.e.- too much oil/ too little oil- the wrong kind of products’ ), poor sleep, medication, prolonged sickness, lack of exercise etc.Dark circles can be hereditary, but also can be due to increased friction ( rubbing, removing makeup with rough material), broken vessels causing haemosiderin ( breakdown or red blood cells) deposition, medication, endocrine ( hormone imbalance) to name a few. 

Know your products- different eye creams use different active compounds which does different things.

Know your problem- different issues need different products. You need to know your problem so you know what to do.

Problem 1. Droopy eye lids- this is a structural problem due to slackening of the muscle underneath the skin, loss of supportive tensor tissue like collagen. This can also be hereditary and a problem inherent with ageing. No eye cream can fix this issue. A surgeon can by carrying out a brow lift procedure.

Problem 2. Puffy eyes: there are 2 parts to eyes, top and bottom. Both can react to gravity and therefore can get pulled down over time. There are 2 types of puffiness, 1 is due to retention of fluids due to poor lymphatic drainage. The second is due to the loss or slackening of the fat pad with leads to the dopey eye bags. Fluid retention can be treated by using caffeine based eye creams or by consuming caffeine ( tea/coffee) as it is a diuretic. Now, here the kicker, caffeine can cause surface dehydration as while it removes excess water from the body, it can also cause dryness to skin. The eye area is already sensitive and has no protection to TEWL, therefore a mild emollient base in needed to act as a barrier for the atmosphere. The fat pad problem- unfortunately can only be remedied again by a surgical procedure.

Poor lymphatic drainage must be addressed- eye massage, eye yoga and mild orbital tapping can improve circulation, increase lymphatic drainage and improve orbital muscle strength to slow down the ageing process. 
Exercise can dramatically improve poor lymphatic drainage.

Problem 3 Lines- Fine lines occur as natural part of eye movement. Can be remedied by maintaining good hydration of the eye area.Light weight moisturisers do well here. Heavy creams can exacerbate the problem as it can suffocate the thin eye tissues and cause swelling of the local area. 

Problem 4 Dark circles- Dark circles can be caused due to the natural anatomy of your eye area. Deep set eyes with recessed areas are perceived as dark due to light play. Creams with light reflectors ( usually mica ) help create an illusion of lightness here. Broken vessels can only be treated with sclerotherapy ( injecting the local area with a compound to dissolve the broken vessel or with Vitamin K). Creams again are not going to do very much for this problem. The mainstay of treating this problem is cosmetic IE- concealers and camouflage. 

I am going to mention certain compounds that are being lauded to help with some of these issues Bear in mind what they are suppose to do- and balance the pros and cons'. Hyaluronic acid is skins natural moisturizer. This compound applied topically is a double edged sword-  with low humidity- it works well by drawing the moisture from the air and hydrating the skin, in times of increased humidity, it draws the moisture from the body to maintain a balance. Topical vitamin C is not photo stable and degrades rapidly once exposed to air so it is unlikely to be beneficial. Contrary to anything the company says, there is nothing capable of boosting cellular respiration of dead skin cells which is what the epidermis is made of largely. 

Lastly- about wrinkles. Wrinkles require resurfacing products. Crows feet can be treated effectively with resurfacing agents or procedures. Mild wrinkles respond well to glycolic acid or retinol treatment. Deep wrinkles require mechanical or laser for reduction. 

What else- certain eye creams are marketed to do 10 things in one go- it is unlikely to work effectively in my opinion. Treat one problem at a time and it is likely to yield a benefit. Most products that claim to de-puff or work instantaneously more often than not are laden with film former ( to create surface tightening effect) or light diffusing to create the illusion of a lighter eye area. It is not fixing the problem, just a short term fix. This is OK if you are aware that this is what it is doing. 

Before you go spending £100's of pounds on eye creams, just have a think on what the problems is, it may be that eating caviar is better than applying it on your skin. Aloe vera gel could be just as good and cheaper. Most importantly- eat well, be happy, exercise and smile.. a little wrinkle is OK- it shows you're lived and laughed.

The above is not exhaustive, just a whistle stop tour on some of what I have come to know over the years. I hate to be taken for a ride with fantastical claims when the truth is that it is just a gimmick..

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